Andre Marriner"s cool head earned him Manchester derby – Graham Poll

Marriner's cool head earned him the chance to referee biggest game in Premier League history



23:49 GMT, 29 April 2012

Andre Marriner is a good referee who stays calm when everybody else around is losing their composure and it is that quality which might have got him the nod to referee Monday night's key game, ahead of some of his colleagues.

One or two other referees will be envious but surprisingly the majority will be glad they have not got the game – the fear of failure often outweighs the desire to succeed.

Since the appointment was made, a week before the game, Marriner’s thoughts will have been on the match almost every waking hour.

Man in the middle: Andre Marriner will have to be ice cool to keep the game in check

Man in the middle: Andre Marriner will have to be ice cool to keep the game in check

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As a referee you are well aware of the enormous importance of some games – and in my memory of the Premier League there has been no more important or built-up game.

He will be considering whether there was anything left over from the previous two meetings this season, looking at any players who have played for both teams and making himself and his team aware of any issues between the managers and their backroom staff.

Then he will consider the likely tactics of both teams in the early stages and start to form a game plan, to work out his approach.

This will be finalised once the team sheets are in and line-ups confirmed and finely tuned after his warm-up on the pitch, when the referee can feel the mood of the players.

Warming up and sensing the atmosphere at the stadium is not all you have to do in the 15 minutes or so you spend on the pitch before the game.

You look around at the key players in each team to sense their mood and attitude; also looking to make eye contact to let them know you are confident and looking forward to officiating the game.

Before I refereed one of the most hyped Premier League games in history, Arsenal v Man United in February 2005, I was offered the chance to talk to the squads of both teams, to express how important the game was and how I would approach it.

Tempestuous: Monday's Manchester derby could prove hard to control

Tempestuous: Monday's Manchester derby could prove hard to control

I asked my friend, the Italian referee Pierluigi Collina, if this was a good idea.

He thought not, saying: 'If you ask players not to do something or remind them of what you can do if they do something wrong, you are displaying fear and stating a possible reluctance to take strong action.

'They should know the laws and your approach. Let them prepare to play football without your interference.' As usual he was right.

So Marriner will make his plans and try and prepare as he does for all other games, but he will know that this is different.

The atmosphere is something he will need to draw inspiration from and be motivated by.

His game plan will be formed but he will know that the best referees are always ready to change those plans in an instant, following a poor challenge or mass confrontation, or even a tunnel bust up.

One thing that is for sure is Marriner will be hoping that his name is not in the papers on Tuesday.

Watch out: Mario Balotelli could cause Marriner some problems

Watch out: Mario Balotelli could cause Marriner some problems

Good week for…

Roberto Di Matteo and his Chelsea team in qualifying for the Champions League final and winning against Queens Park Rangers 6-1. Di Matteo is a lovely guy and clearly a good coach, who I got to know whilst filming a series of Superstars. He deserves all the success that comes his way.

Bad week for…

UEFA, who will allow Chelsea’s suspended captain, John Terry, to lift the European Cup if Chelsea win against Bayern Munich on May 19. He was rightly sent off for a stupid and selfish act which smacked of arrogance – the conduct of a man above the law, which he has displayed in the past. UEFA have done nothing to dispel that.